Touching tribute to six children killed in the bouncy castle tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School in Tasmania

In the wake of Hillcrest Primary School’s bouncy castle tragedy, a picture symbolizing Tasmania’s broken heart was shared far and wide.

As part of the one year anniversary commemorations, a heart sculpture will be on display in Devonport for people to leave messages of support.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The sixth family was rocked by a bouncy castle tragedy.

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Six children died after a gust of wind lifted a bouncy castle and several inflatable balls on December 16, 2021.

Peter Dodt, Jalaillah Jayne-Marie Jones, Addison Stewart, Jye Sheehan, Zane Mellor and Chace Harrison were among the fifth and sixth grade classmates who enjoyed the end of the year celebrations.

Three other children were seriously injured and spent some time in hospital.

“(It) is a day that is forever etched in our memories. It’s the day our hearts broke for the community at Hillcrest Primary School,” said Alison Jarman, Mayor of Devonport.

“The tragedy has shaken our close-knit community, and it will no doubt take a long time to do so.”

A public memorial service will be held on Thursday. Recognition: AAP
Georgie Gardam (centre) is comforted at the funeral of her son Zane Mellor on Thursday December 23 at Mersey Gardens Chapel and Crematorium in Devonport. Recognition: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAP

A public memorial service will be held in Devonport Market Square on Thursday evening, with members of the community invited to leave a flower or message in the sculpture.

Hillcrest will hold a private ceremony at the school on Friday December 16th.

Jarman urged people to get help if they needed it.

A dedicated Hillcrest salvage committee that helped organize the public memorial remains on call.

“It’s hard to imagine what the last 12 months have been for the families and those affected,” she said.

“I am sure that there is no one in our city who is not affected by the tragedy.

“Even if it is still difficult for many to process, it is important that we all continue to support each other as much as possible.”

‘We will never forget’

Department of Education Secretary Tim Bullard said the welfare of affected children, families and staff is a priority.

“It is our intention that the recognition of the day be handled as sensitively as possible,” he told The Advocate newspaper.

“We continue to send our thoughts and condolences to the families, friends, staff and the wider community.”

Health workers from Mersey Community Hospital pay their respects outside Hillcrest Primary School Recognition: AAP
Members of the public pay their respects outside Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, Tasmania. Recognition: AAP

Crowds of people left countless messages, toys, flowers and candles in front of the school in the days after the accident.

Some have been collected by the council, with plans to build a permanent memorial in 2023.

More than $1.4 million was raised for the victims’ families.

A judicial inquiry, which has yet to set a date for public hearings, is being conducted in light of the day’s circumstances.

An administrative hearing was told that a concentrated and powerful “mini tornado” occurred when 39 students were on the school oval.

Five of the children killed are believed to have been on the bouncy castle, while the sixth was struck by an object while waiting in line.

A report from WorkSafe Tasmania and a weather expert, as well as first-hand accounts from students, school staff and emergency responders will be among the evidence presented at the investigation.

“We continue to keep the children, their families and their loved ones in our hearts and minds,” Tasmanian Prime Minister Jeremy Rockliff said in a statement last week.

“We will never forget.”

Watch: Nightmare Close Call captured with dash cam

Watch: Nightmare Close Call captured with dash cam Touching tribute to six children killed in the bouncy castle tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School in Tasmania

James Brien

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